We interviewed Brazilian Top Team members Mario Sperry and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira immediately following Nogueira's victory over Heath Herring via spinning choke in the Grand Prix 2nd Round.




Pride Fighting Championships: Mario, what did you think of the fight with Herring?
Mario Sperry: I was confident before the fight that Minotauro would win by submission. I didn't think that Herring could take it to a decision and I expected (Nogueira) to go for a submission. It was just as I imagined. I try not to say that kind of thing to him though because it would interfere with his training.
Pride: From my point of view, it looked like you dominated the entire fight. Do you feel the same way?
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: I was really happy about that fight. I think I was able to use everything that I worked on before the match. I was able to fight calmly and relax. I think I led the fight from beginning to end.
Pride: The end was a spinning choke. How do you develop new techniques like that?
Nogueira: I practice the spinning choke many, many times every day. That's why the timing was so good and I was able to apply it quickly. There are a lot of coaches in Top Team and because they are there, we can try out many different techniques.
Sperry: I think of Top Team as a place to develop techniques. Our coaches aren't just coaches. There are a lot of pro fighters and students that want to become professionals. There are many types of fighters like guys with long arms and legs and guys that are really strong. That's why we have a lot of variation in our training. If anybody comes up with a new technique, he will share it with the other members. Then, they will work on it and improve it through trial and error. We've been using the spinning choke, for example, in our dojo for at least 1 year. It's been refined for a year to a level that it can be used in a real fight. Even if the form isn't perfect, our team has a lot of new techniques.
Pride: Unfortunately, Arona's fight didn't turn out as well.
Nogueira: That was really unfortunate for Arona but I think he had a good fight. He attacked aggressively from the bell and Jackson wasn't able to hit him with punches well. Arona continued attacking, even on the ground. He just had a little bad luck. He should have let go of the triangle choke and pushed Jackson away. If you look at Jackson's damage after the fight, I think Arona could have won in the 1st round if he had continued that way.
Sperry: I don't think Jackson thought Arona would come out that aggressively. Arona's low kicks were hurting him and I think Jackson lost consciousness, just for a moment, when Arona kick him from below but he was able to recover when Arona was talking to the referee and the fight went on.
Pride: DSE President, Nobuyuki Sakakibara, and PRIDE General Director, Nobuhiko Takada, visited the Brazilian Top Team in Brazil before the Grand Prix 2nd Round. What was the reaction like there?
Sperry: The Brazilian press went crazy. Sports magazines, cable television, regular magazines and newspapers all covered it. It was an honor for us that the President of PRIDE, the top MMA event, came to visit. It was their first visit but we hope he will come back many more times. The fact that they came proves that our team is strong.

*This interview was taken on 6/21, the day after the Grand Prix 2nd Round.